1. Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs recently made a documentary about itself to commemorate 150 years, and its CEO Lloyd Bankfein said:
“we torture people by giving them about 45 interviews before they come here.”
But when candidates do eventually land the role, they’ll enjoy the best salaries in the industry, and will be able to add a name to their resume that tells future job hunters that they’re among the very best.
What attracts candidates most: Although they don’t say it – the challenge of working at the very top of the investment banking industry.
2. Bank of America
Reading abou Bank of America’s hiring policies, what comes off more than anything else is the bank’s commitment to diversity.
Candidates are less likely to find the pushy Alpha-male types one might expect on Wall Street (even more so given that the bank’s headquarters are in Charlotte, North Caroline), perhaps contributing to a more affable working environment.
The pay and benefits are also comparable to other investment banks, and there are more opportunities to move between lines of operations.
What attracts candidates most: The bank talks a good diversity game and delivers on it – you don’t have to have graduated from an Ivy League University for BofA to appreciate your resume.
3. JP Morgan
“Working from home doesn’t work for people that want to hustle,”
said JP Morgan CEO in May 2021, telling us a lot about the company’s corporate culture in a single sentence.
As one would expect of an investment bank of this stature, the ‘hustle’ should be written in the DNA of all new employees. A
s well as being among the highest payers in the industry, JP Morgan can also boast the highest level of female hires in investment banking (49%), and pumps $300 million into in-house training annually.
What attracts candidates most: JP Morgan’s no nonsense CEO Jamie Dimon is the kind of chief that everybody wants to work under and learn from.
The first non-American bank on the list, Barclay’s is the largest investment bank in the UK.
Although its presence in the United States isn’t huge, it has sought to bulk up its investment banking arm over the past five years, almost doing away entirely with its asset management arm in the process. T
he bank’s culture is different, merely by virtue of being British, but it still manages to compete at the top table of investment banking, rarely coming outside the top 10 dealmakers every year.
What attracts candidates most: Barclay’s competes on culture more than salary, reflected in its commitment to hybrid working (compare that to JP Morgan above).
5. Nomura Holdings
What comes across in multiple reviews of Nomura’s investment bank is its focus on enabling its employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
What also comes across, however, is a lack of investment in technology (repeated over and over on sites like GlassDoor and Indeed). And while it has a low deal flow relative to others on this list, it is usually the go-to bank for many of the largest companies in Japan and southeast Asia.
What attracts candidates most: The emphasis on work-life balance.
6. Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley usually competes with Goldman Sachs for the title of biggest dealmaker of the year, and that intense level of competition usually flows down through the employee ranks.
On various employee review websites, ‘job security’ is marked lowest of all categories, with (surprise, surprise) compensation, and perhaps more surprising, company culture, being the most highly rated.
Interestingly, the company’s CEO, James Corman, is one of the most highly rated of all CEOs (14th on GlassDoor).
What attracts candidates most: Like its nemesis, Goldman Sachs, it’s probably the prestige, the compensation, and the doors that a career at Morgan Stanley opens.
TD is rarely among the highest performing dealmakers, although it does regularly feature highly on lists of banks with great corporate culture.
One former employee writes on Glassdoor:
“Great work/life balance. Fair pay. And after a year or so in an entry level role, management often encourages you to post for better, higher paying roles within the company and they even help you prepare and give advice on how to go about it. Overall, a great company to work for.”
What attracts candidates most: If you’re looking to work at a near top-tier investment bank that lacks the alpha male culture, TD represents a highly attractive option.
Jefferies mixes an excellent dealmaking record – regularly featuring on the top 10 global dealmakers list – with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, encouraging employees to engage with its active networking groups aimed at employees of racial and sexual minorities.
Fortune also calls the company
“one of the world’s most admired companies.”
Reviews by current and former employees note how collaborative the atmosphere is with several noting late hours sitting side-by-side with their superiors providing constructive feedback.
What attracts candidates most: The interview process is far less gruelling than at some other investment banks, and the D&I culture is a big draw for younger generations.
Evercore is a truly remarkable company. It is worth bearing in mind that the company was founded less than 30 years ago (in 1995) and already regularly posts dealmaking numbers comparable to blue-chip investment banks that have been on the block for over a hundred years.
That should tell us everything about the ambitious culture of the bank. As should its tagline: “Evercore is the premier global independent investment banking advisory firm.” Forest work-life balance and enjoy the ride as long as you can keep on.
What attracts candidates most: The low analyst-per-associate ratio means new hires will gain instant exposure to the nitty gritty of deals and plenty of client facing opportunities.
10. Guggenheim Partners
As a far smaller bank than any of the others on this list, Guggenheim doesn’t enjoy the wealth of insightful reviews of its peers.
However, it does score higher than them on almost all career platforms, making it an essential addition to this list.
The pay is lower than others, but what comes across is that there’s a better workplace culture, more opportunities for interesting work, and good advancement opportunities.
What attracts candidates most: For people willing to put stimulating work in an excellent corporate culture ahead of ‘win at all costs.’
11. Centerview Partners
Centerview Partners is rarely far from the top positions on Vault’s best investment banks to work for, reflecting its people-centricity.
Although not considered a top-tier investment bank when it comes to dealmaking, the Centerview offers its employees a superior work-life balance to many of its peers, and invests heavily in the development of new recruits.
There is also strong interaction between all levels of the bank meaning analysts get exposure to deals faster than at bulge bracket banks.
What attracts candidates most: The quality of life, which is widely considered to be the best in the industry.
12. Moelis & Company
In just 15 years since its foundation, Moelis & Company has become a household name in investment banking, speaking to the strength of its bankers.
People who have worked for the company rave about its internal culture, where new recruits are given early exposure to big deals.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell with all readers, then some of its deals will: Moelis advised on Anheuser-Busch’s $61 billion sale to Inbev, and Hilton Hotels’ $26.5 billion acquisition by the Blackstone Group.
What attracts candidates most: The opportunity to jump on board what many considered to be the fastest growing investment bank in the world.
13. PJT Partners
Despite its status as a small independent boutique investment bank, PJT Partners offers remuneration to rank with the best in the industry.
In addition to its generous salary and benefits, the company offers recruits an excellent recruitment process – far more simple than the one they can expect from others in the industry – and a personable approach.
The ethos here is that the technical aspects of banking can be taught, but the soft skills are more important to recruit.
What attracts candidates most: The competitive salaries on offer attract bankers looking for a slightly more relaxed pace without losing out financially.
13. Perella- Weinberg Partners
If you’re an intern looking for hands-on experience in investment banking, there may be no better choice than Perella Weinberg Partners.
Founded by Peter Weinberg, grandson of one-time Goldman Sachs CEO Sidney Weinberg, the bank has blooding youth in its veins. Sidney Weinberg famously started at Goldman Sachs as a floor cleaner before progressing to become its leader for several decades.
You may not find a floor cleaning job to be the best route to investment banking here, but let’s just say that it’s reputation for providing responsibility early on is well-earned.
What attracts candidates most: The responsibility, and the fact that Perella-Weinberg is rarely outside the top 10 dealmakers in the US for a given year.
Lazard is the world’s largest independent investment bank, and offers recruits a number of different values outside of M&A across their global offices.
Lazard offers new employees the more traditional work-life balance of investment banks.
When current or former employees have a complaint to make, it’s usually about the intensity of the work and long hours at the office.
That being said, the banks has gained a reputation for developing the best internship program in the investment banking industry, allowing interns to get their hands dirty on big deals with days of their arrival at the office.
What attracts candidates most: Lazards is still considered one of the most prestigious investment banks, coming in at number 6 for prestige on Vault’s annual survey.
16. Houlihan Lokey
Until now, Houlihan Lokey has mainly focus on serving mid-market clients, but interested candidates shouldn’t interpret that as a lack of ambition.
Reflecting this, Refinitive ranks the bank number 1 across a range of categories, including US transactions and restructuring.
Over the past decade, the bank has made a number of acquisitions of offices across the globe, perhaps further hinting at plans for strong growth in the years ahead. Something for new recruits to consider when looking at lesser well-known names in the investment banking space.
What attracts candidates most: The bank’s admirable ambition.
17. Greenhill & Co
Unlike many of the companies mentioned on this list, Greenhill & Co. has a dedicated focus to M&A advisory, which it has maintained throughout its nearly 30-year existence.
The company was founded by former Morgan Stanley partner, Robert F Greenhill, still its chairman. Mr. Greenhill was able to convince many blue chip clients to join the Greenhill ranks, including Aloca, GSK, and Tesco.
Although the salary is significantly lower than most of the bulge bracket banks (analysts earn less than half of what they would at Goldman Sachs, for example), the firm’s small team of less than 400 means there’s a fast track to the boardroom for those that excel.
What attracts candidates most: The swift progression and exposure to blue chip companies.
Which is the hardest investment bank to get into?
Goldman Sachs is notoriously difficult to get into. One statistics recently rolled out was that it received 100,000 applications for just 2,300 global internship positions.
This means that it received 24 applications for every job it posted. Bear in mind too that we can expect the vast majority of these applications came from high-achieving students at the most prestigious universities in the world.
Few recruitment races in any industry can be as competitive..
Which is the most prestigious investment bank
Truthfully, there’s probably not much that differentiates the banks at the top of the investment banking food chain.
Banks like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have sway that most others can only dream of. Differentiating between the three is really a case of which of their offices handles the most transactions.
When talking in terms like these, nobody could go wrong by working at any of the three at their New ;York City or London offices.